Two caveats …
First, my ego doesn’t want me to write this essay. It effing hates the idea I’m proposing.
Second, I’m using the term “context” in this piece. In this case, context is an ontological term taught to me by my very smart friend, Alan Prushan. It is similar to a perspective or a point of view: it’s the meaning we assign to something we see. Everything meaningful starts with context. Context determines mindset, which determines actions, which determines outcomes.
As I’ve written about prior, I’m going through a second awakening. This awakening is freeing me from dependency; from exiling myself in order to receive validation, legitimacy, etc. As I drove to my new place yesterday morning (a move is one of the many big changes during this time), I realized that no known untruths remained in my life. Everything had been swept clean. But it hasn’t been easy. It truly has been a “dark night of the soul.” Over the past two months, I’ve had more white-knuckle moments (especially at night) than I can count. Waves upon waves of fear, doubt, anxiety pummeling my being and sucking me out to the Sea of Despair. This was especially true last night as I tried to sleep.
This morning, I woke up with an epiphany resting gently on my consciousness. Like a gift from God left overnight. I realized that I’ve been treating this entire time as a challenge; a battle of wit and will. This makes sense. I am a D in the DISC, an Enneagram 8, a Scorpio. I am wired to face challenges. I’m wired to fight. So much so that much of my identity has been tied to competitiveness, winning, effort, willfulness, relentlessness, pertinaciousness. Further, I come from pioneer blood and cowboy ethic. We. Don’t. Quit. I was also raised in the American ethos bellowed by the Boss:
Cause we made a promise
We swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby no surrender
And wailed by Cory Hart:
And when the night is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
’Cause no one can take away your right
To fight and to never surrender
Back to the epiphany …
What if I saw this time as something different than a challenge? Ok, so what is the opposite of a challenge? In this examination of context, I determined that the more accurate term would be to describe this as an experience.
And what do you do in an experience?
Yeah. There it is. My ego hates that word. Surrender means quitting, passivity, weakness, right?
But this is a spiritual experience. My will and wiring to win are detriments, not determinants. My will promises the false idea that surrender is optional — that with the right amount of cleverness and persistence, I can determine the outcome of this experience. Here’s the reality: surrender is the only option if I want to grow; if I want a relationship with Truth.
Accepting surrender feels like a death. Because it is. It is the death of a level of selfhood that I’ve held on to for 50 years. That’s why my ego hates it. That’s why the idea of surrender causes fear to reach its cold hands into my stomach and twist and tear.
But when I change the context of surrender to being the only option in a spiritual experience, a bright new idea emerges: in the spiritual realm, surrender is the ultimate act of bravery.
So how do you surrender to a spiritual experience? I honestly don’t really know but I think it starts with:
- Accepting reality; accepting what Michael Gungor refers to as “thisness”.
- Questioning the context of everything.
- Lay everything on the altar of your preferred term for a Higher Power.
And what exactly am I surrendering? Well, that’s a long list:
- Ego-based beliefs
A key term in this kind of surrender is “nevertheless” — a term frequently used in various scriptures.
“Nevertheless, not my will but yours.”
“Nevertheless, I will go.”
“Nevertheless, I will be still.”
Nevertheless is a faith-based action word — the act of surrendering it all while continuing on.
For me, faith is surrender’s best and most vital friend. Faith used to be a system I followed. Or what I turned to when my plans didn’t work out. Now, faith is how I am living. Each step a step into the void. Hounded by fear. Step. Haunted by worry. Step. Dogged by doubt. Step. Making a bold decision. Step. Expressing my heart. Step. Healing my wounds. Step. Faith is the sovereign person’s only offensive weapon; the only lantern. Step.
I’m starting to see the promises of surrender slowly emerge. One of them being this …
Everything my soul yearns for is on the other side of total surrender.
So applying my will to try to get what my soul wants is pure folly. In fact, bringing a mindset of problem-solving, willfulness, obstinance, overcoming obstacles — any form of dominance — brought into a spiritual experience is painfully foolish.
There is no “winning” in the Divine. Victory is had by surrender, not by dominating. There is no battle. Only the experience.
And because my ego hates this, it must be true.
And because I have an ego, I will forget this. Please remind me.